All posts by Mr Executive

Avoid These Money Mistakes That Could Have You Losing Thousands of Dollars Overnight

Too often, young entrepreneurs make egregious mistakes that end up costing their business thousands of dollars. This is especially true when they’re focused on generating more leads and driving new business, a situation in which many tend to ignore their expenses and end up accruing a scary amount of debt. The average entrepreneur can be a bit cavalier with their financials: it’s easy to rack up thousands in “necessary” expenses without considering whether or not those bills are actually helping grow your business.

When it comes to filing taxes, you should be especially careful with your numbers. Unfortunately, you can lose thousands of dollars overnight when you fail to prepare for tax time.

 If you’re thinking this can’t happen to you, then consider the ways in which you can go wrong with your taxes: you can underpay, which can lead to expensive IRS interest and even penalties, or you can neglect to take all the relevant deductions, meaning you’re paying more in taxes than you really owe.

If you’re looking to avoid such money management mistakes, then read on: this is how you need to handle your finances.

1. Know your five largest expenses by heart.

Start by answering a simple question: what are the top five things you spend the most money on each month? Then, think about how you can either reduce or eliminate superfluous costs.

For example, do you really need the Expert plan of that email marketing service, or can you afford to downgrade to a more basic plan (or get rid of it altogether if you’re not utilizing it)? Or, if you’re renting an office space, consider whether or not you’d be just as efficient working from your home office.

Take a good hard look at your biggest expenses. If you’re being critical (as you should be!), then you’ll find that you’re likely spending more than you need to.

2. Make sure each dollar spent is tied to a dollar earned.

Once you review your five largest expenses, it’s time to strategize. Going forward, you should think of each new expense as a strategic investment. How will each new expense help to grow your business? How will this expense bring in more revenue?

Ultimately, this should be your goal: for every $1 in business expenses you incur, your revenue should simultaneously increase by $1 (or more). If you can train your brain to get into this habit of thinking, then your business expenses will start to pay for themselves.

Susie Moore, life coach and bestselling author of What If It Does Work Out, has this advice for entrepreneurs getting their first business off the ground: “Sell first, build later. Focus on making money before spending money. Get customers and clients to buy into your concept, then you can give them what they actually want.”

We also reached out to best-selling author and private consultant Jeremiah Desmarais, who shared his insights on financial mistakes clients have made before coming to him for help.

What Desmarais found are three common errors new entrepreneurs make when trying to get their business off the ground that comprise what he calls “spray and pray marketing”:

  • Buying an ad in a publication using “branding” so you look like a big company building “awareness” – when what you really want are leads
  • Buying a list of prospects and sending an unsolicited email that goes for the offer without adding value first
  • Hiring expensive marketing consultants for a “strategic plan” that ends up not seeing the light of day because it’s too complex

Instead of “spray and pray,” Desmarais advises his clients on a leaner approach to business development that takes less time and money while resulting in more new deals.

He suggests entrepreneurs who desire more business look into hiring freelance consultants with specific skills in client acquisition, LinkedIn marketing to target key accounts and decision makers, and using cold email sequencing with tools like mailshake and

3. Use tax deductions strategically.

Based on the type of business you’re in, you’ll qualify for certain deductions. For example, a real estate agent can deduct the cost of meals and entertainment for clients, and a salesperson can deduct the cost of fuel or take the standard mileage deduction. In order to take full advantage of the deductions that apply to you, consult your tax preparer at the beginning of the year, so you know what to look for.

Throughout the year, track all of your expenses by keeping your receipts. If you’re more old fashioned, you can use a spreadsheet to do so and print out your business bank account statement monthly. Or, if you consider yourself to be a more modern entrepreneur, then you can download a free mobile finance and accounting app like Hurdlr. The importance of keeping receipts (or digital records, if you’re going the app route) is to justify your deductions in the case that your accountant or the IRS requests evidence.

While this record-keeping may feel tedious, this is an important accounting strategy for entrepreneurs. After all, by maximizing your tax deductions, you thereby lower your taxable income, the number off of which your business taxes are calculated. In doing so, you end up with more money in your pocket at the end of the year.

4. File taxes quarterly, not annually.

If you anticipate owing $1,000 or more in taxes for the year, then the IRS requires that you file your taxes quarterly. Filing taxes quarterly (if you meet this threshold) is beneficial in two ways. For one, you avoid IRS penalties that you could incur from paying late.

And second, paying four times per year helps you to better budget your tax expenses; it’s much easier to spread out your tax payments throughout the year, as opposed to making one huge cash payment in April.

Disclosure: This is brought to you by the Entrepreneur Partner Studio. Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. 


4 Ways to Develop the Leaders You’ll Need in the Future

One of the most challenging aspects of leadership development is consistently and effectively identifying the next wave of leaders. It can be easy for those at the top to forget that eventually someone will have to take their place at the helm. And ignoring that fact has lead to issues with succession planning, unwanted turnover and other challenges in leadership development in many organizations.

 2016 High Impact Leadership research from Bersin by Deloitte asked 2,422 HR and business leaders from around the world how well they believed they could discover new leadership talent. Just 35 percent of respondents said they were above average when it came to successfully identifying and developing leaders.

To understand why this is, consider the typical leadership development paradox. Traditionally, the first step is to choose who has leadership potential, then develop their skillset. Logically, however, this makes little sense. How is it possible to identify effective leaders if employees have yet to receive any type of leadership development?

Here are four ways to properly identify better qualified candidates for leadership positions:

1. Stop choosing potential leaders based on unrelated skills.

Gallup’s 2015 State of the American Manager Report, which studied 2.5 million manager-led teams in 195 countries, found that the top two reasons employees are promoted to management positions are because they were successful in a non-managerial role or because of their tenure with the company. Neither of those criteria have any proven correlation with leadership skills or relevant experience.

Create a better means of measuring for true leadership potential. Look at the culture of the organization and envision what it would look like for someone to lead by those values. Also consider how successful leaders evolved over time in the organization. Then use that information to make a list of recognizable traits to look for as signs of leadership potential.

2. Broaden leadership development to more employees.

People learn and grow at their own unique pace. Requiring that an employee reach a certain position or be with the company for a certain number of years before they’re offered leadership opportunities holds back those who might be ready for more responsibility now. Or even worse, it might push those who aren’t yet ready into leadership roles.

Instead, let leadership development be a company-wide initiative. This gives more people the chance to take the next step in their career. It also creates a larger pool of possible great leaders to draw from across the organization.

3. Track progress and growth.

There’s no way of knowing who is ready to step up and lead unless development is monitored. Remember that this is a process. Employees need feedback from their mentors and coaches to know for certain what skills they’ve mastered as well as where there can still be improvements made.

Develop a way to assess progress for different leadership positions, and be clear with employees and coaches about what success would look like in different situations. For instance, explain what is expected of a first time project leader. Get everyone on the same page about the developing leader’s responsibilities and how that should guide their team.

Then collect thorough feedback from all those involved. Ask the leadership candidate what challenges they faced as well as where they think they thrived. Pose the same questions to those they supervised and organizational mentors. Over time, this will reveal patterns that make it easier to identify who is best suited for leadership in the long-term.

4. Focus on continual leadership development.

There is no such thing as too much experience. There is always more that can be learned. After leadership candidates have been identified, continue to nurture them. This keeps employees from feeling that they have plateaued, which is unfortunately common.

The 2014 Insigniam Middle Management Survey: Middle Management’s Critical Role In Saving Company Innovation looked at responses from 200 middle managers from around the world. It found that only 15 percent of managers believe they will ever be promoted to the next level of leadership at their company.

Whether intentionally or not, employees who have proven their leadership abilities are being told that their leadership journey is over — and this hurts both them and the organization. Encourage a steady stream of highly trained and skilled leaders working their way up by demonstrating that there is no end to development.

In order to clearly see who the next wave of leaders is going to be, employees need to be given the chance to hone and exercise their skills. That means redefining how leadership potential is identified and providing each employee with the chance to develop personally and professionally.


5 Easy Exercises to Find Your Brand’s Voice

Each day, consumers are bombarded with a cacophony of brands. Taglines and slogans shout from TV, radio and the Internet; they vie for attention on store shelves and billboards. It can be difficult for consumers to make sense of the noise, and it can be even more difficult for brands to be heard.

Who are you talking to?

One of the first steps to shaping your brand voice is to identify the voice of your audience. If you’re like many companies and have more than one core target audience, select an individual within each segment. Create personas for these individuals and “interview” them, asking questions like “Where are you from?” or “How do you get to work?”

Identify a common theme throughout your audiences and ensure that the voice can speak about this theme to all audiences equally. Ultimately, you want to understand exactly what each audience segments thinks about your industry and what they want or expect from your company.

Your audience also differs in regards to their familiarity with your company. A new customer may not appreciate the same level of informality as someone who is a longtime subscriber to your newsletter, so the tone of voice should adjust accordingly.

5 exercises to find your voice

There’s no one way to develop your brand voice. With a few exercises, using some imagination and with or without the help of your team, you can hit the right note.

  1. Personify your brand. With social media allowing brands to speak directly to consumers, it’s helpful to think of your brand as an actual person. What would this person look and sound like? Is he or she young, old, serious, or funny?
  2. Brainstorm adjectives. Ask as many members of your team as possible to think of three adjectives to describe your brand and culture. Compare these adjectives to see if any specific ideas have been repeated, and use those as a jumping off point for the voice.
  3. Go where your audience is. Search online — Twitter, Facebook, and online forums — to see where your target audiences spend time, and examine how they talk to each other. While you can attempt to speak in the same way, take care not to lean too heavily on mimicry or it will sound inauthentic.
  4. Choose your ideal spokesperson. Celebrity spokespeople are a popular way to quickly give a brand an identifiable voice. Select the celebrity you think would best represent your company, and examine why you chose them: if you choose an esteemed actor, for example, you may desire to sound distinguished. If you chose a comedian, you may want to be your customers’ funny friend.
  5. Read it aloud. When you’ve written some content, read it out loud to yourself or to an audience. If any part sounds awkward, the voice isn’t right for your brand.

Consistency is key

After you’ve found your brand voice, it’s important to keep it consistent in all content production. Create a style guide for your brand voice in which you address a few key points:

  1. Length: Short words can be playful and pithy; long words can be more eloquent and authoritative. Sentence length can also impart a certain tone of voice, as longer sentences of varied construction can be melodic whereas shorter sentences are punchier.
  2. Vocabulary: Outline a few areas of vocabulary, including jargon, slang, and swear words, and whether you allow their use. The use of slang can help a brand seem younger. Swearing can be used, but it’s not often done as it can cause offense.
  3. Grammar: All content should pay attention to grammar — and that includes deliberate misuse. Accidental grammar mistakes can make a company look lazy, but intentionally breaking grammar rules allows for a more colloquial tone of voice.

Developing a clear brand voice has become a necessity in such a crowded marketplace. Keep your tone of voice consistent across all media in order for customers to recognize your brand over noisy competitors. And once you’ve established a strong voice, yours will become a familiar one among thousands.


How Social Entrepreneurs Can Land Funding

At one point, nongovernmental organizations and charity groups were the only options for alleviating societal ills, but in today’s increasingly interconnected world, we’re facing more complex issues that require more innovative and sustainable solutions. This has led to the rapid upsurge of social entrepreneurship; now, socially conscious entrepreneurs tackle local and global social challenges while generating profits.

Social entrepreneurship combines social impact and sustainable business growth, taking on social issues using business principles to its advantage. In theory, social entrepreneurship is an amazing concept, but the practical process in progressing from an idea to a sustainable operation has critical challenges, in particular during the startup financing stage.

How social entrepreneurs get initial financing

Typically, a regular startup would turn to the following funding sources: network investments, banking, equity debt, convertible debt, crowdfunding and so on, with a relatively straightforward process for funding channels that are revenue model options. However, social ventures don’t have the same flexibility as regular startup ventures when it comes to leveraging capital.

First, equity or VC financing usually expects an exit strategy that doesn’t automatically exist in social ventures, which usually plan on staying in it for the long haul. Second, investors need to have confidence in your business concept. However, social ventures make assessing risk more difficult, given the unique nature of cultural and business resource issues and investor networks. Third, and most important, investors usually depend on comparable investment activity that helps validate an investment thesis around market opportunity and valuation levels. That doesn’t exist in many social venture markets, where activity is a lot patchier and those markets have yet to demonstrate clear trends in delivering investor returns. All this limits the availability of capital in social ventures.

The global trend for social ventures clearing the financing hurdle

To access capital, social ventures have to do several things, including conducting intensive market research to prove their need for funding and their ability to manage and expand their business. But funding roadblocks might still arise. If that happens, social ventures should look into the following three options: leveraging partnerships, philanthropic organizations and social cause competitions and funds.

Revenue-sharing partnerships involve social entrepreneurs identifying a partner who can bring economic value to both parties. The partner may have intellectual value or property to contribute that adds value to the venture in a unique way. The beauty of this strategy is that it’s a win-win situation for both parties.

Philanthropic money is a large pool of capital social entrepreneurs can tap into. However, the definition of philanthropic money has shifted over the years. Originally it meant simple donations, which are commonly seen today as an unsustainable method of giving. Today’s new wave of philanthropy is called impact investing, a form of investing in which a measurable social or environmental impact is part of the goal, along with a financial benefit.

For entrepreneurs, this source of capital is advantageous because it requires lower than market rate interest or return targets, and for philanthropists, a principal attraction is that the returned capital can be recycled into other charitable activities. The concept of impact investing is still evolving, however, and it will take some time until it can accommodate the growing number of social enterprises.

Finally, as in other industries, startup competitions, accelerators, angel investors and impact funds provide valuable exposure and mentorship, which can lead to capital for social ventures. Good avenues to explore would be business plan competitions, such as the Global Social Venture Competition and the Hult Prize, as well as business incubators and accelerators like Echoing Green, Unreasonable Institute and Endeavor Global. Since most social ventures get their start thanks to committed and passionate donors, the challenge for the social entrepreneur is to identify a sustainable model.

Example: how Pi Slice got funded

Genny Ghanimeh is the founder and CEO of Pi Slice, a web-based social platform for microfinance. Here’s how it works at her company, in her words:

“In practice, what model examples do we have of social venture startups that are securing financing? At Pi Slice, when we went for our first funding rounds, we learned from meeting diverse investors to rely on all funding channels. From the beginning, we had some pre-seed angel money that helped us get started, and allowed us, with MicroWorld ( from the group Positive Planet (, to build a revenue-sharing partnership model — we’re big fans of partnerships and creating shared value.

“We also participated in different entrepreneurship competitions, as much as time and timing allowed us to — the exercise of preparing for a competition, being mentored and presenting the case to the jury is very beneficial to reassess the model, whether one gets funded or not. We still needed money, so we approached philanthropy capital while still pitching the project, focusing on financial and operational metrics. At the end of the day, social investors or philanthropists, like any investors, need to know that you can be sustainable and scalable, and that you won’t require any other emergency rounds of financing.

“Finally, we also engaged with VCs and set future milestones to pitch them at a time when they would be interested to come in — this is a very useful exercise to set standards and milestone achievements in foreseeing the growth of the venture. Our experience has taught us to knock on all doors and try all funding models, because each model has its own added value and can prove to be crucial for a new trend to be successful.”


5 Tips on Managing an All-Millennial Office (From a Millennial CEO)

It’s been about two years since millennials surpassed gen Xers to become the largest share of the American workforce. As that gap continues to widen, C-suite executives should start thinking about how this shift might impact their business. Because believe it or not, the new kids won’t be so new in just a few years. Older millennials are moving into leadership positions, while fresh college graduates are chasing similar success.

From tightening promotion timelines to building a culture that prides being a part of something bigger than ourselves, I’ve managed to grow my startup, Gather, to more than 50 people strong in just three years. Pulling from a number of personal experiences (as a millennial myself), you can lean on these five tips to better manage and build out a stronger team of millennials.

1. Dish out professional development dollars.

When it comes to entry-level employees who might not have as much experience as others within your organization, professional development is crucial. Not only does it prepare your staff to take on bigger and better challenges, but it also keeps them engaged and active both in and outside of work.

You can drive home the importance of professional development by providing a reasonable annual stipend (we provide $1,500) to employees after they hit an anniversary, such as the six-month or one-year mark. Whether courses or conferences, the money will help your team accelerate their careers and take advantage of exciting opportunities for growth. And while this is an upfront expense, the experience and learning your team will bring back to your company are invaluable. You can also choose to host events that are specific to teams within the office — for instance, having different departments across your organization learn from each other by offering training sessions over lunch or monthly presentations.

No matter which strategy works best for your company, promoting professional development fosters a growth mindset among your workers — something that’s a core value at our office. Instilling the beliefs that learning is a lifelong process, feedback is always welcome, and that mistakes are opportunities for improvement ensures that your team will continue to strive for growth throughout their careers.

2. Diversify employee engagement.

There’s no denying workplace friendships make coming into the office every day that much easier. In fact, 46 percent of professionals say they’re happier when they have strong friendships with their co-workers, according to a survey from LinkedIn and Censuswide. And these work friendships are even more important among millennials. More than half of all 18- to 24-year-olds say workplace friendships make them feel happy and motivated.

By hosting engaging events (and I don’t just mean happy hours) you can facilitate strong relationships among your millennial workforce. But, do yourself a favor and get creative. We like to set up an annual, city-wide scavenger hunt to foster some healthy competition and get employees mingling cross-team. Or, you can throw a Silicon Valley viewing party (something we do) to bring everyone together around something you know they’ll relate to. Better yet, give your team a say in the types of activities you put on. The more invested employees are in a particular event, the more likely they’ll attend.

3. Compress promotion timelines.

Millennials aren’t too keen on waiting around for promotions. More than four out of five millennials expect a promotion or raise at least every other year. To help meet these demands, I’ve worked with my leadership team at Gather to create entry-level roles that feature more opportunity for promotion than your typical role.

This works well for entry-level sales or support positions. Where you might typically have a promotion timeline of a year to a year-and-a-half, these roles promote around the six- to nine-month mark. For big teams of entry-level positions, we use objective goals and milestone markers to promote at faster rates. That way employees are engaged year-round and know exactly what to aim for. Such measures also go a long way toward making employees feel like they’re valued.

Be careful, however, of asking for too much from new employees. Millennials — specifically new staff joining right out of college — often come in with high confidence and low competence. Instead, developing realistic goals from quarter to quarter will help you provide ample opportunity for advancement without overwhelming employees who still have plenty to learn.

4. Provide the opportunity to be part of something bigger.

It’s true, money matters, but money’s also not the only thing millennials are looking for in a job. For six in 10 millennials, a sense of purpose is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers. Give your employees a better idea of what your business is striving to accomplish by encouraging cross-team interaction. That way they can see all the great work that’s going on across the entire organization.

Organizational silos often leave new employees wondering what others in the office are working on and how their efforts fit within the grand scheme of things. Promote a culture of being a part of something bigger than yourself by promoting collaboration with others — and that means executive leadership too.

It’s also crucial to hire employees who are already committed to your company’s goals and mission. Doing so helps ensure your staff remains passionate about the work they’re doing, and who they’re doing it for, for the long-run.

5. Encourage Radical Candor.

Feedback in the workplace is often a touchy subject — but it doesn’t have to be. At Gather, we use a transparent approach known as Radical Candor to speed up the personal and professional development of our employees. Too many managers feel they have to choose between being a jerk or pretending that things are going smoothly, even when they’re not. By pushing managers to highlight accomplishments, as well as areas for improvement, Radical Candor helps foster an open and honest work environment that’s designed to both nurture and challenge employees.

Already the largest share of the American workforce, millennials are poised to play an increasingly prominent role in offices around the country. But, using these five tips, you can better position your business as a place millennials not only start, but grow their careers.


Pitching Your Business to a Journalist? Here’s What Works.

Entrepreneurs often ask me if publicists’ pitches really lead to stories. Journalists don’t like answering that. When we bite on a publicist’s suggestion, we feel like we aren’t doing our jobs — that rather than hunting down a great yarn, we just ran with what fell in our laps. But the honest answer is: Yes, sometimes a pitch works. And I’ll tell you the background from one such story in this issue, so you can see how it happens.

It began on February 1, when a publicist named Leila Belcher emailed our senior editor, Alexandra Zissu. Subject line: “Hi Alexandra — How Project 7 Gum Rose from the Ashes.” (Side note: A marketer recently told me that he ran an experiment and found that customers opened his emails more often when he put their name in the subject. Did that make a difference here?) The pitch was one paragraph; it said that Project 7 founder Tyler Merrick had a “particularly interesting and inspiring story” of rebuilding his company after it went under.

 The pitch didn’t offer much detail, but it did hit upon a theme — problem-solving — that we love to write about. And it offered growth numbers, so Zissu knew the rebound was legit. She dashed off a response: “Why did it fail, and how did he make it rise/what worked 2nd time around that didn’t work 1st time?” She was searching for three things. One, is there a compelling story? Two, is the entrepreneur open about his mistakes (which not everyone is, even if their publicists claim they are)? And three, did he learn something that our readers would find valuable?

Usually, publicists reply to these kinds of questions themselves. But this publicist forwarded a personal response from Merrick, her client, who explained in detail how he went wrong. (In brief: He sold mediocre products that he thought people would buy because a slice of sales went to charity. It didn’t work.) “Founders need to be more vulnerable and transparent about their failures and struggles,” he concluded.

This was a bull’s-eye in ways Merrick may not have realized. Many publicists will read a writer’s or an editor’s work before pitching so they can target those most likely to be interested in a particular story. In this case, there was no way to have known that at Entrepreneur, Zissu and I have had many conversations about how to cover social missions. She believes strongly in them. I worry that stories about them aren’t compelling — just a ticker of good intentions, with no lessons for readers. Here, Merrick represented both sides: His company has a social mission but had to learn hard business truths.

She got Merrick on the phone. “He was the most transparent person I’ve talked to for Entrepreneur,” Zissu says. And that’s how the perfect mix came together: a pitch that targeted what a publication covers and what a specific editor is interested in, an entrepreneur who is comfortable opening up and a story that readers will benefit from. Sure, it wasn’t gumshoe reporting — but no journalist will turn that one down.


What Male and Female Leaders Can Learn From Each Other

In the television show Mad Men, which depicted a Madison Avenue ad agency in the 60s, women were secretaries and men were bosses — drunk bosses most of the time. As the show progressed toward the beginning of the 70s, we saw the female characters gradually take on leadership roles with great success, bringing an entirely different style of management to the fictional ad agency.

Today, in the real world, women hold about half of all management and professional positions in the United States, but only about 4 percent of CEO positions in the S&P 500. The disparity is a sensitive subject that Matthew McCreight, senior partner at Schaffer Consulting, took head-on when he was asked to address the Women in Insurance Leadership Conference earlier this year.

 McCreight was initially reluctant to address the audience, especially when he learned that his topic would be — “What can women learn from effective male leaders.” The provocative title however, wasn’t meant to imply that men have all the answers and women need to learn from them, but rather, it was meant to be a starting point for a discussion on the differences between how women and men lead.

McCreight interviewed 31 women in senior leadership roles to get their input, and he gained some valuable insights. Yes, the disparity is due at least in part to the “secret handshake” phenomenon and inherent bias, but more telling was the fact that there are indeed differences between how men and women lead.

The difference in leadership styles became clear with a telling anecdote. “A woman was in a senior role in a company,” McCreight said. “The CEO had staff meetings every Monday at 8:00 am, so she had to bring her nanny to her house every Sunday night so that she could get out of the house and get to that meeting. So finally after a number of years, she was asked how it was going, and she said, ‘This thing is killing me!’ The CEO offhandedly said, ‘Why don’t we move it to 10?'” For all those years, the female leader didn’t ask, and the male leader didn’t offer.

There is a stereotype of male leaders being aggressive. One of the respondents in McCreight’s interviews said that the best male leaders don’t fit the stereotype, and instead show more empathy, a quality that is more often associated with female leaders. Many of the women interviewed also said that the best male leaders don’t always insist on having their own way, are open to other opinions and listen to their teams before making a decision. It would seem then, that despite the question focusing on what women leaders can learn from men, male leaders can learn a lot from their female counterparts as well.

Many of the women in McCreight’s survey took the opportunity for an inward look, suggesting that it would be beneficial for women leaders to speak up more, with one respondent noting that while women do well on assigned tasks, men will speak up to grab the assignments they want.

Some of the more interesting responses to the survey question, “What would you say are some of the more noteworthy leadership practices you have learned from effective male leaders?” include:

  • Power. Enjoy being the boss, and don’t be afraid to make decisions. Men are very good at enjoying the power. Some women can be almost embarrassed to admit they like to be in charge and to have power.
  • Don’t wait to be asked. Volunteer to take the lead on an assignment.
  • The best male leaders I have witnessed don’t fit the stereotype. They emanate empathy, something you would perhaps not expect.

The second part of the question, “What advice do you have for aspiring women leaders in how to go about learning from effective male leaders” also yielded some great insights:

  • Remember that if there is something to deliver, you as the leader can only spend a maximum of 30 percent of that activity’s time thinking about it, and you have to give your people 70 percent of the time to deliver. So make a decision, and get on with it.
  • Observe, but don’t discount your strengths as a woman. The best run companies have a diversity of thought. You don’t have to be like everybody else.
  • Network like crazy.
  • Go out of your way to engage with male leaders, and ask for guidance on specific topics. Don’t be wishy-washy in what you want to know. Male leaders love to be asked to give advice. It boosts their feeling of power. Many men still don’t naturally reach out to females in business so we need to take the lead.
  • If you need to, fake confidence and gravitas until you are no longer faking.

And perhaps the most important piece of advice to female leaders that came from the survey was this — “You can learn from anyone, male or female. You don’t have to listen to what male leaders tell you if you don’t think that’s the right thing. You don’t have to be a ‘good girl’ and do what you are told. Do what you think is right!”


Two Influential Gen Zers Explain How to Market to Young Consumers

The best marketers are those who are most in tune with their customers. They understand what consumers want, when they want it and how they want it delivered.

Of course, this level of understanding is much easier to discuss than achieve. It’s often challenging to figure out what motivates a consumer.

Lately, top brands and executives are turning to youth marketers for advice. This move makes a lot of sense. After all, what better way to gain insight into customers than to talk to leading influencers who happen to be your target customers?

 Two of the most successful gen Z marketers today are Connor Blakley, age 17, and Deep Patel, age 18.

Young but poised, Blakley and Patel have been consulting for Fortune 500 companies for years now. The two clearly understand how generation Z thinks and, more importantly, how to meaningfully engage and form lasting relationships with this group.

Currently, if you want to learn about marketing to gen Z, you have a limited selection of sources. That’s why Patel and Blakley are building YouthLogix, a publication for all things related to youth marketing.

Their goal is straightforward: to provide resources for marketers so that they can better understand how to reach this new, influential and diverse generation of consumers.

Here are eight innovative ways that brands can reach gen Z:

1. Consider influencer marketing.

Members of generation Z have grown up with a screen in their hands. Because of this, they’ve been able to establish genuine relationships with influencers across platforms such as YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram.

These connections are much deeper and more prevalent than we’ve ever seen throughout history. As a result, gen Z knows all about influencers. They connect with these people every day, and they even have emotional relationships with them.

This is a huge opportunity for brands to partner with influencers to help spread a message. The connection is a fragile one, but it nevertheless creates a direct channel for reaching vast numbers of gen Z consumers.

2. Don’t rely on dotcoms.

Gen Z will not search the web for your dotcom website. They often go through social outlets.

What that implies is that in order to reach the eyeballs of gen Z kids, brands need to find the channels where those consumers are looking. Most likely, those channels will be somewhere other than a traditional website.

3. Use visuals.

A big difference between gen Z and previous consumers is a shorter attention span. That means marketers and brands will need to build content that consumers can digest easily and quickly.

Gifs are a great tool for brands to deliver their messages concisely and powerfully. They pack a punch and can be delivered across many media platforms to find their audience. Because of their concise and efficient nature, gifs and other short clips are a perfect way to appeal to gen Z.

4. Follow the “new social contract.”

Some interesting research has been done on the way in which gen Z consumers prefer to interact with brands. Researchers have concluded that dealing with gen Z requires a new type of social contract.

Gen Z likes brands that can engage them, provide a relatable and personalized experience through social media, reward their loyalty and maintain consistentcy across all channels.

5. Seek quality over coolness.

Although they appreciate conciseness, generation Z seeks quality as well. In addition to being extremely cost conscious, gen Z consumers know great value when they see it.

They’ll always side with high-quality products and content over what may be perceived as cool.

6. Blend the online and offline spheres.

For gen Z, there is no separation between the offline and online worlds. Just as they interact and form relationships in person, gen Zers build real friendships with people they meet online.

This phenomenon occurs with not only other people, but also brands and companies. The most in-tune companies will always build a strong online connection with their customers so that they can best understand their wants and needs.

7. Recognize purchasing drivers.

According to a study conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, nearly half of gen Z says cost is the deciding factor when making a big purchase. A secondary factor is whether the product helps them reach a goal. This is an important deviation from the traditional marketing standard.

A gen Zer is a tough but extremely valuable customer if you can convince them that your product or service is worth the price and actually provides value. If you can accomplish this task, then you can expect a long-term customer.

8. Aim for consistency.

Consistency is crucial when you interact with gen Z consumers. They are tough and stubborn. They will also remember all of the interactions that they have with companies and brands.

That is both good and bad. Gen Z will reward you if you show them you are valuable. However, they will never forget a poor interaction, either in person or online. Creating consistent, quality interactions with gen Z is a key part of connecting to this influential consumer group.


How to Make Money in Real Estate, Even If You’re Not in the Real Estate Business

When I founded a financial services company 24 years ago, I was focused on my core business — hiring the right people, navigating arcane regulations and recruiting clients.

As my business grew, so did my rent. I asked myself why I was paying someone else when I could just buy it myself. That’s how I got into real estate. In fact, it’s how many entrepreneurs get into real estate. It starts with their own balance sheet and gradually grows into a lucrative side practice — sometimes more financially rewarding than the initial business they launched.

Moving forward, I decided to buy my own offices. Throughout the years, I have bought and sold more than 50 properties, from commercial office buildings to single family houses. I even purchased a funeral home.

Do you know how much formal real estate training I have? Zero. If you’re a successful business owner in any other industry, you can be successful in real estate, if you’re careful and follow these simple rules.

1. Buy what you know.

If you buy real estate handbooks or take pricey classes, the first lesson they’ll teach you is this: Do your homework and research. As if that isn’t true in any industry.

However, if you’re successful in your industry, you already know a lot. You’ve likely scoured the area — and maybe other regions and states — for the best rates on the most suitable and energy-efficient offices for your needs. You’re keenly aware of what’s a good deal for the square footage you desire and which areas are the most convenient for your employees and your clients. In other words, you’re more qualified to buy a particular type of office building than many real estate professionals.

2. Let go of your ego.

Last month, I sold a funeral home in a low-income area for twice what I paid for it in 1996, while also raking in significant rent in that time. Meanwhile, I have friends who own pricey glass towers visible from the Interstate — because they like to go to parties, brag about the buildings they own, and hear, “Hey, I know that place!”

Few people know the places I’ve bought and sold. Because I don’t care about cache, I don’t pay an “ego markup.” I can negotiate harder and pay less. Then I can market my properties to tenants and owners who are just as savvy about finding a good deal as I am. It turns out there are more dealmakers out there than successful businesses willing to spend extra for a fancy address.

3. Recession-proof your purchases.

Along those lines, I look for the best values because I seek recession-proof properties. A friend of mine just bought a beautiful office building for $252 a square foot. He’s smart and hardworking, and I expect he’ll make money on the deal. Me? I’ll never pay that much for anything.

Real estate is a notorious boom-or-bust business, and like the stock market, it’s nearly impossible to time it perfectly. What I’ve learned is this: Recessions devastate the high-end commercial markets, but it doesn’t put everyone out of business. Those businesses trying to cut back will often ditch their high-priced offices for more modest ones — and I own many of those.

Bottom line: I not only profit as much as my friends with nicer properties, I sleep better at night knowing the things I can’t control won’t badly hurt me.

4. Sell to people just like you.

Buying a valuable property for the best price is only half the transaction. It won’t matter how good the deal is if you can’t turn around and rent it or sell it. Real estate agents and brokers spend a lot of their time trying to locate tenants and buyers, and it’s a percentage game. Many nibbles never actually bite.

You have an advantage, however. You’ve bought property you’ve used yourself, so you’re not only an expert in that kind of space, you can step into the shoes of your customers. You instinctually know how to market your offices. You also have a sharp marketing weapon. Hey, I’m not only a real estate owner, I’m a customer. I understand your needs.

5. Don’t believe your own hype.

Those who succeed in their core businesses and then dabble in real estate can do quite well. They can also overreach. It’s almost a stereotype: “I’ve conquered my industry, so that obviously means I can be a real estate genius, too!”

If you stretch beyond the spaces you know, you can still make money. What did I know about horse ranches before I bought one? Nothing. However, I knew I didn’t know. Tying this back to the beginning, I did my homework.

So, this is my most important piece of advice: Better to end your real estate career simply buying your own offices than believing you’re bulletproof and buying properties that are riskier than you think.


6 Super Simple Content Marketing Hacks to Double Your Lead Generation

If lead generation is the engine that drives your business, then content marketing is the premium grade gasoline you use to fill that engine. The power of content marketing has made it easier than ever to implement evergreen lead generation strategies and convert those leads into happy satisfied customers.

While most of you probably understand the basics of using content marketing for lead generation, there are a few simple hacks you can implement to double your results almost overnight and generate leads in numbers that will boggle your mind.

 Today, I am going to show you six of those hacks.

1. Write content that goes deep

The first hack is also one of the simplest. For SEO and branding purposes, long form content is always better. Writing longer and more in-depth content enables you to provide more value to your audience, share a more detailed message, and as an added bonus, is absolutely loved by Google.

Nearly every marketing expert agrees that the average length of viral articles is around 2,400 words, so if you plan on generating leads through your company’s blog then increasing the length of your content is a good place to start.

But this doesn’t give you permission to create redundant or tangential copy that makes people question why they clicked through to your website in the first place. Each word must provide value to fulfill your visitors’ intention.

2. Use content upgrades for your lead magnets

Have you ever been surfing a website or reading an article on the latest technological advancements when all of the sudden you are hit with an on-page pop up promoting a lead magnet regarding health & fitness?

I didn’t think so.

Even if you’ve never experienced an example quite this extreme, it’s obvious that the lead magnets you are promoting need to be congruent with the content on the page your viewers are reading.

These are often referred to as content upgrades. Content upgrades are post-specific lead magnets that are designed to enhance the user’s experience in exchange for some contact details.

For example, someone who blogs about programming may provide cheat sheets with code snippets outlined in their article. A chiropractor who writes about back health may provide a series of videos demonstrating stretches outlined in their blog post.

But these lead magnets are more than whipping up random checklists. You need to create content upgrades that are centered around what your audience truly wants.

If you want to quickly boost the number of leads generated, then start creating a slew of post specific offers for your most popular articles outlined in your analytics reports.

3. Link to webinars directly within content

Webinars are hands down one of the single most effective lead generation and marketing tactics available to the modern entrepreneur. But their power means nothing if you are not promoting them correctly.

One of the first steps that you need to take to fully unleash the potential of a well-designed webinar is to promote your webinars in the body of all of your articles, emails and in the subtext of your videos.

It might seem like an easy hack, but it will have a massive impact on your ability to generate leads.

4. Use multi-touch content marketing campaigns

Generating a lead is good, but after the initial generation, you are still miles away from converting that lead to trust your brand and make a purchase. This is why designing multi-touch content is a necessity for the modern entrepreneur.

You need to design campaigns that allow you to connect with your new lead on a recurring basis until you have developed enough rapport to streamline the sales process.

5. Include tweetable quotes in the body of your articles

A great way to quickly grow your Twitter following and rapidly grow your lead generation capacity is by including tweetable quotes in the body of your articles.

This is a simple hack that requires nothing more than an easy to download WordPress plugin or a service like Click to Tweet. It can result in a massive growth to your Twitter following and a rapid increase in the number of leads you generate through social media.

6. Include share buttons in your emails and on your web page

If you took my advice from step one and you are creating killer long-form content, members of your email list will naturally want to share this content.

To take advantage of this and make the process as seamless and pain-free as possible, include share buttons in all of your emails and at the end of every piece of content that you write. This will simplify the sharing process and radically increase your odds of generating social hype for your brand and your content.

Content marketing is one of the greatest weapons in your lead generation arsenal and equipped with the above seven hacks, you are well on your way to becoming a lead generating ninja in no time.

While the above tips are relatively simple to implement, they require a significant amount of testing and optimizing before their full potential will be realized. Start implementing them today and get ready to reap the rewards.